With the quickly increasing number of high school and collegiate groups, it’s really no surprise that so many people first get introduced to this crazy world of a cappella during their time in a scholastic group. Both high school and college groups have packed schedules 9 months out of the year, but then there's this thing called summer vacation. Most groups choose to go MIA for the summer months as group members take on new jobs, classes, or programs, but those two to three months off can really hurt your group’s productivity and momentum! Summer a cappella planning can make a big difference in prepping you for the year ahead and keeping fans engaged, so we’ve got some ideas for how to keep your group moving in a positive direction while you’re away in these summer months.
This may seem like kind of a no-brainer to some, but you’d be surprised how many groups really don’t talk to each other over the summer when everyone is in different places, doing their own thing. By losing touch with each other and not staying involved in each other’s day to day, your group will have to do extra work in the fall to get back to the level of closeness that made you such a tight group in the first place! Keep the group message alive with apps like GroupMe and WeChat, which are great for staying connected across multiple devices, platforms, states and countries! If you can, go the extra mile and get your now connected summer a cappella group together for a night or weekend to do something fun while you're all on vacation! Go out to dinner together at a fun rooftop or waterfront restaurant, hit the beach, see a summer blockbuster, or go to a karaoke bar – as long as you’re together, you’re keeping up that group chemistry.
Most groups’ executive boards change at the end of each academic year, and with that comes a transfer of power including email logins, social media credentials, and music management. This transition can be a headache and can sometimes get in the way of what’s important: making music with your group. In order to hit the ground running come fall semester, use this time over the summer to make sure that older or graduated members have gotten together all of resources the new e-board will need. It can be nice for each role to have a guidebook that is updated by the previous officer and passed down so no member has to truly start fresh and re-learn everything.
Outside of your group planning, if your school requires you to register for practice spaces or request a performance space for shows or events, take care of all of that in the summer (as much as possible). Not only will this help you prepare for the semester, but it’ll also help you stay focused on your group’s work during your time away from one another. But make sure to keep everyone engaged! Break up tasks and delegate so that everyone is a part of what’s happening. In a group of 13, don’t just have four executive board members taking care of the organization and logistical prep for the following year. Sure, they can oversee it, but if you spread tasks out to more people in the group, then you’re engaging more people and keeping their head in the game as well,
Even though most scholastic groups aren’t able to do any performances over the summer due to members being spread across the world, there are still pro, semi-pro groups, and summer a cappella groups touring while you're on break (like the fabulous ladies of Cape Harmony above, or their brother group Hyannis Sound.) Many of these tickets can be gotten for cheap, so try to go to as many shows as possible across every level and genre! Don’t limit yourself to a cappella; you might get equally great ideas from going to a pop artist’s show, or a blues guitarist’s, or a Broadway musical. Make mental notes of what you liked and didn’t like, and what you want to try to replicate with your own group. Keeping your brain flowing in the summer when you don't have school on the brain can be a great time for inspiration to strike.
Speaking of inspiration, use it to start making something amazing! Arrange a song. Write some original music. Brainstorm ideas that will make your semester concert a huge success. Even though a lot of students work jobs with long hours over the summer, this is the only time you don’t have the stress of classes hanging over your heads. Summer a cappella arranging is great because, not only do we have more time to create, but you’re also in a better headspace to be more creative and let the thoughts flow freely. No matter what it is that you want to create for your group, the biggest hurdle is setting aside time to do it in the first place. You have to start somewhere, so take a stab at it, and make sure you involve your group mates! Today’s technology allows for far greater collaboration than what was possible in the past, so take advantage of that by collaborating on arrangements, designing new group shirts, or working on album art for your next round of recorded material.
It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about what is possible and what isn’t possible. In planning for the year ahead of you, don’t limit yourself to what’s been done before – either by your group, or otherwise. Collaborate with other kinds of groups on campus. Put together an invitational of epic proportions, or organize a huge benefit concert. Plan an album or single with video elements or creative arranging that sets your music apart. The further ahead you and your group can plan, the more successful you’ll be, and setting things into motion now will give you one less thing to worry about in a few months! The biggest thing is to move from the “we could do this” phase to the “we’ve already started laying the groundwork for this” phase.
No matter how you decide to get over the summer hump, keep moving forward and keep DOING. Keep in contact with your whole group, and keep pushing the envelope. We’re here for you every step of the way whether you need ideas or help implementing ideas, and we’d love to speak with your group to help bring your dreams to life. Take advantage of the summer – don’t let it get it the better of you!